Year-End Grocery Analysis

Photo: thrillist

Every year I examine my grocery spending and try to get some insights into how I spent my grocery budget and how healthy my diet was.

The grocery budget at our place provides for two adults. We eat a plant-based diet at home and don’t buy or cook meat. We both eat breakfast at home every day and take lunches to work on weekdays. We eat out often. We travel about 3 weeks a year and use the vacation budget for those meals. We sometimes have extended family over for a meal, or I contribute food to potlucks and work events.

This year we continued doing weekly meal plans and attempted to shop once a week. This was a failure. The ledger doesn’t lie: we somehow went grocery shopping 100 times and made 167 purchases! (that is, we often went to several stores in one day).

Here’s a breakdown of the numbers for 2017:

  • Spent $6457 for the year, including groceries (food to make meals), snacks, cleaning supplies, paper goods and personal care items – but not including pet supplies for our 2 cats
  • That is $538/month or $124/week ($461/month or $106/week for food categories only)
  • $538 Canadian is equivalent to $554 AUS / $430 US / € 360 / £317
  • Spending was $15/month more than last year, most of which was for personal care items. In addition to everyday things like soap and toothpaste, I bought 5 unscented products required for use at the gym; 8 containers of moisturizers due to swimming twice a week plus our severe climate; 3 facial moisturizers, and only one container of sunscreen which was enough for the whole summer!
  • The cost of crumpets went up so much in recent years that Rom no longer buys them!
  • We ate 61 loaves of bread. Superstore and its suppliers recently owned up to price-fixing bread. I have no doubt that Sobeys and other chains were involved since they carry the same brands.
  • I used to add fruit to salads but now I put a lot more vegetables in them, so my biggest gains this year were in peppers, zucchini, carrots and radishes. We still bought 68 kg of apples, 26 kg of bananas, 21 kg of oranges and 20 kg of grapes. I am all stereotypes when it comes to buying avocados every other week to make avocado toast – I love it! I would have guessed we bought a frozen pizza once a week but it was actually every 2 weeks. I use 2 litres of milk a week for coffee and cereal while Rom uses 4 litres a week of soy milk. We still buy yogurt, cheese and eggs.
  • You will be amused to know that I consumed 130 protein bars and 111 Freezies, and we shared 130 oat cakes – 65 each?
  • We were so well-stocked on condiments and spreads that we only needed peanut butter, jam and salad dressings.

Meals and snacks out of the house haven’t been accounted for yet. We had 41 meals out this year at an average of $44 per meal for the two of us. Of the 41 meals, we had 12 noteworthy dinners for $50-100; the rest were lunches or more workmanlike fare. We also made 37 trips to coffee shops – about once a month to sit down with a latte and a date square; the rest for just a coffee or tea. On the plus side, that is a lot of togetherness and conversation for Rom and me!

I am trying to figure out a balance of ethical and convenient shopping, but I haven’t fared well. The grocery budget mostly goes to 4 stores, all of whom have ethical and price challenges:


  • Spend 51% of our grocery budget here
  • 2 km from home
  • Large, full-service supermarket
  • Chain is locally owned (headquarters in Nova Scotia)
  • Prices are high except sale items and store-brand
  • Receive 4% cash back on credit card ($118 this year)
  • Receive Air Miles cash ($40 this year)
  • Can use Fast Fuel gas station coupons ($30 this year)
  • Bad reputation for following African Canadians around the store ☹
  • But hires the most African Canadians and has scholarships for student workers


  • Spend 20% of our grocery budget here
  • 15 km from home
  • Self-service warehouse
  • Good prices for buying large amounts of a limited range of products/brands
  • Annual membership fee of $63
  • Don’t spend enough to qualify for their cash-back program
  • No wine at Canadian Costco
  • Known as an LGBTQ friendly employer, provides good employee benefits and student scholarships


  • Spend 19% of our grocery budget here
  • 15 km from home
  • Prices are low for “price-sensitive items” and average for the rest
  • Receive 1% cash back on credit card
  • Can buy household items at same store when needed
  • Known for low wages, bad work schedules and lack of employee benefits


  • Spend 5% of our grocery budget here
  • 4 km from home
  • Locally owned small business
  • Best prices for fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Doesn’t take credit cards
  • Knew an employee who worked 10-hour shifts with minimal breaks, was paid in cash, and was not always paid on time

None of the above stores have unionized employees.

The remaining 5% of our grocery budget is split among 10 different stores that I only visit occasionally, including Superstore, Bulk Barn, Giant Tiger, Dollarama, and the Farmers’ Market.

I will note that for the things I can buy at Costco, such as nuts and raisins, the prices are far better than buying the same amount at Bulk Barn. Prices are lower at Walmart than Sobeys, but it’s further away and there are fewer rewards programs. Unfortunately, I find our Farmers Market is a hipster mecca with very high prices, and lots of treats (like baked goods, jam, flowers and jewellery). I enjoy it – but not for grocery shopping!

What factors do you consider when deciding where to do your food shopping? Given my information – where would you shop if you were me?

Really, buying food and cooking and eating are very charged topics!

— with a nod to the Asian Pear’s post


  1. I love what you have done here and I am thinking I will do the same for 2018.

    I am doing a year of buying nothing challenge this year. While groceries and toiletries do not count in my challenge, I would like to at least keep track of how much we are spending on these things and try to save $$ where I can. Luckily I still have my receipts for shopping since the new year!

    We made a change with meal planning last year – we chose to switch to a simpler meal plan and focus in on it. It simplifies the grocery shopping and means I can buy in bulk more often.

    We’re running a 7 day meal plan which is almost the same each week, one of those meals is a rotating different thing. I’m doing a fortnightly shop. I usually do one run to the store on the off week to pick up one or two things fresh but it really is just one or two things. I mostly have all the basics on hand for all our favourite meals in case we don’t feel like what is on the menu plan.

    We bought a larger fridge recently which means I can buy more fresh food and keep it fresh longer. One of the biggest problems in Australia is the “fresh food” is usually not so fresh when it gets to the supermarket. Sometimes fruit or vegetables have been stored for up to 6 months and then shipped to the store, which means it has a maximum week of shelf life by the time I get it.

    We do eat meat and my deep freeze is saving us a lot of $$ because I can stock up when it is on special or when we drive to Costco. Right now folks are paying $12 a kilo for meat I bought at $5 a kilo. I also freeze bananas for my protein smoothies and I stock up when the prices are low, so I am eating 99 cent bananas when folks are paying $5 a kilo. 😉

    Our Costco is 160kms away, and we make that trip once every couple of months. They do have some of the freshest and best fruit and veg available in Australia and in general the steaks are some of the best quality for the lowest price. I’ve bought apples there that have lasted for two months in the fridge compared to apples locally which last a week and have to be thrown out.

    We have a food saver which protects the foods we freeze – much less freezer burn especially for things like bread. I freeze way more things than I ever expected thanks to some blogs I read which have taught me I can freeze things I never even thought of freezing. 😉

    I would probably aim to Costco a bit more and Walmart a bit less. I like how Costco do things in general, they really look after their staff here in Australia. I know it is hard with Costco because of the bulk sizes if you buy something and don’t love it, then it gets wasted or you make yourself eat it. This is one reason why we try to schedule our visits for weekdays as that is when they tend to sample things here – if I go on a weekend there are almost no samples at all.

    Our weekly pizza night is fairly epical and actually creates two meals worth of food for us. If you can find a good pizza base that you like at Costco and just freeze that if you have space in the freezer.. we are Australian and put egg on our pizza, it is so great. 😉

    I might try and do a few posts on meal planning in 2018 because it is working so well for us right now.

    • Hi Snoskred, Happy New Year! Our weekly meal plan is pretty much the same week to week – one dish for Mon/Tues, I work late Wed evening, another dish for Thurs/Sat, pizza on Fridays (which also lasts us for two meals) and a meal of eggs on the weekend. We have a large fridge but only have the freezer on top of the fridge – chose not to buy a separate one because without the meat, there is nothing we really need to stock up on. I could probably buy more at Costco if I changed brands of cereal, crackers, and pasta sauce. Maybe I will have to note which brands they carry, then buy a small size at another store to try them out. Good luck with your Buy Nothing challenge!

      • I also want to know more about how you keep track of all this. 🙂 Could you do a post on it?

        I’m putting a lot of spreadsheets into action and keeping receipts, for now. I’m trying to track no spend days and set goals for that. Mushrooms appear to be my current nemesis, because if not for mushrooms I think I could literally cut my shop back to once a fortnight. They don’t last and I need them for Pizza Fridays and I am about to google if I can freeze them.

        As far as not needing to freeze a lot of stuff without meat – yes, that is what I thought until I began reading Our New Life In The Country and discovered just how little vegetables I froze and how I could do better. I mean things like vegetable soups were something I always did and then I would just freeze them without adding any cream or cheese, but she completely blew my mind with new things I could freeze and ways to do that.

        I am going to try and do more of it this year when things are on special. For example my chickens LOVE blueberries and if I buy a heap when they are at end of season and freeze them, I will always have them on hand for the girls.

      • I freeze a few vegetables and berries – I love having farmers’ market string beans (blanched) and summer strawberries in the dead of winter! Dare I ask if you make your own pizza crust? I have resorted to buying frozen pizzas because the commercial pizza crusts available are not very good. I could be convinced to try my own! I will plan a “how to” post on grocery tracking. Did you see the Price Book one?

      • We buy a great pizza base from Aldi, it is spectactular and makes four meals for us each week for the crazy low price of $2.99. But my Mum always made our pizza base for many years, hers involved yeast and allowing it to rise. I think it is just finding a recipe you like. 🙂

        I just started working on our spreadsheet last night, and because we buy the same items over and over, I have done an item lookup page. Aldi provides a 4-6 digit number for each item you buy, it is the same number each time you buy that item, and they thoughtfully put that on the receipt. So I have a page where I put in the number and then the item description. Each week when I log the items, I can just type in the numbers and the price.

        The other place we shop, there is maybe maximum 40 items we buy there, so I am giving those their own number and I will print out a handy reference chart. 🙂

        Already I have identified some things that we will change! Thanks for inspiring this. I’m excited about it. 🙂

      • Excellent! I am jealous that you get to shop at Aldi.

  2. I don’t think you should have any bad feelings about what you spent! We spent $6927US or $577US per month. That included everything you listed plus alcohol and meet. Ours also excluded pet supplies and cosmetics for me (but did include shampoo, etc.). So not exactly the same but almost in terms of types of items included. The other difference was that due to our move I had to start from scratch in stocking our pantry but we really had eaten down our supplies at the other home so I’m not sure that wasn’t balanced out by our week on the road while moving when we bought no groceries.

    I really thought that food prices were higher here than where we lived previously but I see that we only spent $350US more in 2017 than in 2016 which may simply be food prices increasing more overall plus us having family over for meals more now that they are close.

    I find your assessment of the stores that you shop at and your farmer’s market quite interesting. I can’t provide the same level of analysis and we have few options close by & I shop at only 2 stores regularly in part because I find food shopping tedious. My regulars are Trader Joe’s & Vons. I’ve tried the farmer’s market and found it much like you mentioned although it is a fun outing on a nice Saturday and has produced some interesting fruit and vegetable varieties not available in the stores. It also is all organic so I may make it a priority to visit this year. I also tried the newly opened Sprouts and found it very uninteresting although I have shopped there a few times when I couldn’t find an item in my regular stops. We have a Whole Foods that is quite a drive and only have used it to order a pre-cooked Thanksgiving turkey and gravy as I wanted out large family meal to be stress free for me!

    My food goals for 2018 are to develop the habit of eating healthy snacks, drink way less wine, try at least one new recipe a month and continue to cook and eat at home much of the time. I generally don’t meal plan for the week but simply make sure we have enough food but not so much that it will go to waste.

    Thanks for getting me to think about this in more detail.

    • Hi Juhli, I love the idea of starting over. Sometimes I envy people who have recently moved and had the opportunity to kick-start all their habits and routines. But not enough to actually move 🙂 We did a pretty good cupboard clear-out last Fall. Even used up the bag of hemp hearts and the jar of miso! It’s funny but I have always loved grocery shopping and don’t find it tedious at all. It’s probably because as kids, we shopped with our parents weekly and always looked forward to having a fully stocked cupboard that one day a week!

      • Hemp hearts is definitely a new one for me! I had to look it up and decided it falls into the same category as my bag of ground flax seed: something very healthy that I forget to use. Wish I love any kind of shopping.

  3. 1066jq

    My husband is retired military so once a month we go to the commissary, for most items they’re considerably cheaper than regular stores. It’s about a 40 mile round trip drive.
    In between we use our Publix a Florida based store chain. Their meat, though higher than the commissary is a much better quality so I do some of my meat shopping there. Their veggies are of excellent quality- they list where they come from and most are local, within 25 miles or so, and their store brands for most other things are a good bargain and good quality.
    There are just 2 of us, I cook our meals from scratch, make my own bread and make lots of homemade soups in the winter.
    We don’t eat out a lot unless we’re traveling, that’s usually 4-5 times a year. We have a local Mom and Pop restaurant near the Publix that we do go to for breakfast occasionally.
    I consider prices when shopping, ergo, the commissary and then I consider convenience, the Publix is only 5 miles from our house.
    All in all we’re spending about $500 a month that includes pet food and supplies, all cleaning supplies and health products. So I feel fairly comfortable with that and have no plans to change things.

    • Hi, I can’t imagine living in a climate where most of your produce is grown within 25 miles. We can probably eat within 200 miles local about 4 months of the year! Our monthly shop is $563 CDN including cat food and litter, and your $500 US is $625 CDN, so we are in the same range. I miss making bread and would like to go back to it. All the more reason after the bread price-fixing scandal!

  4. Holly H.

    Hello! You have much more detailed records than I do (no surprise there, ha!) but I have data for the last quarter of 2017 and am planning on enhanced tracking in 2018. I was widowed in late 2015 and posted here off and on before and after that, during which time most tracking was out of the question due to my topsy-turvy life. I ate a lot of hospital salad bar meals, grocery store prepared food and so on. Then widowhood hit and I was buying way too much food for some reason. Fast forward to early 2017 when I met a great guy and started hanging out with him, then dating at full throttle. We’re now contemplating selling our homes and buying one together. He’s a tracking nut, which speaks to my innate makeup as well. 🙂

    What I do know of 2017 is the last quarter. During that time I had house guests for just over two weeks, and I provided them with most meals. My significant other and I were (still are) eating out more often than we will one we are under the same roof, though we eat dinner at home about five nights a week now. One of our homes, that is. Having two homes to manage presents challenges in needing condiments at both places, cleaning supplies, etc. So I imagine our costs will go down somewhat when we move in together. For my expenses alone I am averaging:
    $460 a month groceries which includes wine and cleaning/paper products (his would be less as he didn’t have the house guests for two weeks, or other family dinners I hosted)
    $197 a month restaurant bills which likely includes a breakfast, two dinners and one casual meal on average. He would have similar.

    My goal for 2018 is to track more closely and to see if I can reduce my portion of the food/grocery bill to around $320 a month, and the restaurant tabs to $130 a month. It will be interesting to see how this changes when we’re living in the same house!

    • Holly, I’m excited to hear from you, and delighted to hear about the new directions your life has taken! I am interested to know whether you’ll continue to live out of town? Hope you’ll stay in touch! I also thought about the impact on my grocery budget of hosting family meals, providing birthday cakes, having our grown child stay with us, buying Halloween candy to give out, etc. I am happy to do it, but I tend to forget I have those expenses in addition to ordinary groceries. Happy 2018!

      • Holly H.

        Thanks and yes, I plan to stay in touch! The guy I’m with now is a neighbor, and we met due to my daily trek to the park for a run taking me right past his house. So we’re only two blocks apart but neither of our houses would be conducive to our cohabitation. We’re going to look in the same general area we are now but about ten miles further north where the property taxes are quite a bit less. I might consider moving elsewhere if I were not still working, but I have four years to go until I can consider retirement. On a tracking note, I had family visit over Christmas and took everyone out to dinner once. I book those kind of events as Entertainment vs. Restaurant, as I truly want to know what I spend on regular restaurant eating and the special occasions muddy the water there. Just how my brain works I guess. On the other hand, Halloween candy is just absorbed into groceries, ha.

      • Good point, Holly – I count things as entertainment when I go out, but not when I have people in.

  5. EcoCatLady

    Holy Kazoli! I can’t believe you actually keep track of all that. I’m impressed. I have no idea what I spent on food last year, but it wouldn’t be representative anyhow since 2017 will forever be known as the year I went off the deep end food-wise. With the crazy political situation here, and with my deepening concern over global warming and its impact on growing seasons, crop failures and the like, I decided to try to stockpile a year’s worth of food. Rather than buying one of those prepper pallets, I decided to go old school, and mostly purchased from the Latter Day Saints. I’m not a Mormon, but my ancestors were, and I figure they’ve been studying this sort of thing for generations, so they know what works and what doesn’t – plus their prices were really good. Most of that stuff has a shelf life of 30 years, but I also stockpiled a bunch of canned goods, beans, rice, and other similar items – For things with a shelf life of 1-2 years I’m aiming to keep a year’s worth on hand and rotate as I go – in other words, I eat from the stockpile and shop to replenish it.

    So far so good. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure I’ve got a year’s supply stockpiled because it’s pretty hard to tell how much one eats in a year – though you seem to have a pretty good handle on it! 🙂

    Anyhow, my goals for this year are to continue to refine my system, and to try to get a bit more ecological with food in general. I’ve read that one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gasses is food waste. I seldom waste food at home, but there are things I can do to help with that problem – like buying more veggies from the discount bin (most of that stuff gets tossed unless someone buys it) and aiming for more beans and less meat. A vegetarian diet is hard for me with all of my allergies to nuts and seeds, but I can probably do better than I have been without sacrificing health.

    At any rate, I’m curious how you keep track of all this information. Do you just keep receipts? Do you enter it all in a spreadsheet? It seems like it would take a huge amount of personal discipline, but I’d love to know your system.

  6. I love how exacting you are!! I really should track our grocery spending but I would probably be surprised (and not in a good way) and how much we spend/waste on groceries. Great post!

  7. Eek, I knew our total would be bad, but its worse that I thought. I spent $418/month on groceries and eating out and that’s just my half. The boyfriend and I take turns so….yikes! This is a big opportunity for savings, but I really hate to cook on work days so…I dunno. Our food expenses have been pretty similar for the last few years.

    The primary reason I grocery shop where I do is convenience. We do most of our shopping at the Kroger that is ~1 mile away. For produce and meat, we prefer a smaller store that is 2 miles away (kind of like a smaller whole foods, but they have non-organic stuff too) or a similar one that is on my way home from work Kroger is unionized but their service and selection seems to be getting worse and worse. The smaller store has decent sales prices, but if we bought everything here it would be much, much more.

    Like Cat, I’m extremely curious how you track this. If you’re entering items manually, then, I’m astounded by your commitmen!

    • Hi Candi, I used to spend that much on groceries when it was just me and Link at home. Before Link left home, I made a big effort to teach Link how to shop and cook, which required me to change my ways and be a better example 🙂 Yes, for the kind of tracking I do, manual is the only way.

  8. Margie in Toronto

    Wow! Seriously impressed! I normally allocate about $200/month Cdn for everything. I checked the USDA meal pricing index and I come in on the frugal end for a single woman of my age – $37.50US per week – about $45 Cdn so $190 per month. Pension money comes in on the first of the month so I pay everything then and take out the grocery money and put it into a separate wallet so I know exactly what I have.
    This year I’m trying to cut back further – for January I’ve budgeted $60 – mostly for dairy and Fruit & veg. My fridge, freezer (top of the fridge) and my pantry are pretty well stocked so I wanted to start using up some of those items. So far – so good. I’m hoping to spend my $200 per month for a few months in a row and then have a low spend month using up what I have.
    I do eat meat but I am cutting back and eat a lot more vegetarian meals. Doctor wants me to follow a low carb (he’d prefer Paleo but can’t do that strict) diet so that means fruit & veg is increased and right now it’s pretty expensive so I alternate between fresh, frozen and canned. I always have eggs, cheese & yogurt on hand as well.
    I shop mostly at the local “No Frills” or a Loblaws store that I can easily access from the subway. I don’t drive so location is key. I also use the Loblaw Loyalty club card and it works out well for me. A friend has a Costco membership so a few times a year I’ll go with her and we often split items – we each live alone so it makes more sense than trying to get through huge packages of single items before they expire.
    I very occasionally go to Sobey’s or a Metro Store – mostly when I’m out with someone else and they stop in for groceries. I never shop at Walmart – and yes – it’s a political statement in their case – I abhor their labour practices and the effect they often have on small, local stores.
    I tend to batch cook one day per week – this week it was Monday and I made a pot of carrot & red lentil soup, roasted a tray of squash, carrots & parsnips, made up a casserole of chicken, rice & greens and finally a pot of vegetarian curry. I’ve also got salad greens and different raw veggies all ready so I just mix and match things for meals all week. If I get tired of anything or it looks as though I won’t get to it this week then I portion it up and put it into the freezer for future use.
    I enjoy eating out but do need to cut back this year out of financial considerations – but sometimes it’s just a switch to coffee & a treat rather than a full meal – or I might share a meal with a friend as restaurant portions tend to be large – or I entertain at home more.
    I want to try new recipes and I want to eat well this year but above all, I don’t want to be guilty of wasting food.

    • Hi Margie, Your week’s meals sound excellent! I had also read that $45 per week per adult was the minimum cost of a healthy diet in Canada. I found a calculator for Toronto here which shows $41-53. Just by coincidence, our weekly food shop (food and snacks only) is $106/week or $53/each. I hope you make the adjustment to your new diet and don’t feel deprived, but it sounds like you’re doing great so far!

      • Margie in Toronto

        Thank you for the link – it looks as though Toronto comes in about $5 more per week – which certainly makes sense to me. At least I know I’m on track.

  9. Fiona

    Very consistent overall with past years, Dar – but as always, I’m completely wowed by the exactingness! I get very intrigued by many of the details and it fascinates me to compare food around the world. It intrigues me that the grocery options jump from 2km to 15km. Are there any other ones in the 2km range? Your spending seems fabulous to me. I didn’t track mine last year but know it must have blown out hugely. I can completely see how the personal finance blogs point out $900 pcm spends being easy to do. Another thing that struck me was how affordable your eating out budget seems. With wine/beer and a big-eating teen in tow, we easily spend $150 plus if we go out to dinner (which we do much more often than we should.) Agree as well about the Farmer’s Market. We have some great ones within biking distance but gosh, the prices! We’ve been profligate in every way with food since I stopped blogging. Blogging saved me…I need to get back to it!

    • Would love to see you back in blogger world, Fiona! It really does seem to help with accountability. Our other big supermarket chain has two stores 3.5 and 6 km from our place. We did a “test shop” with them and found out that for our regular items, it cost more there. Yeah, I do think our restaurant prices are reasonable. But we go for lunch instead of dinner more often than not, we don’t order meat, Rom and Link don’t drink alcohol, and I will just have one glass of wine! So it’s a frugal scheme. Even though my tastes are getting more refined and I seem to prefer $10+ glasses of wine, haha! Rom’s latest find is a place that sells supposedly New Zealand style “meat pies” (they have several veggie ones as well) – they are delish!

  10. In the scheme of things I loved the bit where you mention giving up the muffins – made me smile!
    I hadn’t thought to look at amounts in terms of how many rather than just how much – I am going to go back over my receipts now and see if I can estimate the quantity.
    It was heartening to hear that you spent 15$ more this year than last each month. We managed to come in less than last year but my focus was ‘economising’ and as I pointed out in my post I felt we were almost running to stand still over the year against rising prices.
    I think Sainsbury’s have a reasonable record with their staff – I go there because it is convenient and I can get a drink after work before starting the shopping!

    • My increase in spending was due to more personal care items and continuing to buy lots of snack foods. I could have done better! It wasn’t due to rising prices.I wish I could get a latte at my grocery store!

      • We invested in an “up money” coffee machine many years ago, when it eventually died after 6 years we worked out how many cups of coffee we had made with it and how much it cost us per cup, it was something like 12 cents a cup, for latte style coffee. We drink 2 cups each a day, think of how much money we are saving there. If I bought 4 cups a day, that would be $12 minimum, here in Australia. That would be $4,380 dollars a year!

        Sometimes you gotta spend money to save money. 😉

      • I like the way you think. I make a pot of coffee and bring it to work in a thermos every day. On the weekends I use our own espresso machine which was reasonable (about $150) and has lasted 9 years so far. This fall I bought a burr coffee grinder, again a moderate one at $100, but now I’m not tempted to buy expensive beans and have them ground for me in the shop! Such is the life of a coffee addict 🙂

      • You wouldn’t if you added up the spend for the year on a latte!

  11. I’m really impressed that you keep up with all of that. We don’t have very many of the same stores available here. I don’t track it like you do, but most of my shopping is done at Harris Teeter, Aldi (love them!), Sam’s Club, and Ingles. I rarely go to Wal-Mart because it’s always so crazy in there. I know Sam’s Club is the same company, but it’s typically less crowded, loud, etc. Most of our pet food and supplies come from

    Dave’s sounds like the worst out of your choices. I’m impressed by hoe much you know about your local stores too.

  12. Jamie

    Hi Dar,
    I’m loving this post!

    We’ve cut back to buying crumpets only when they are half-price. Are crumpets in Canada the same as crumpets in Australia?? With bubbles on top? I’ve just had a look and it seems they probably are, but a Scottish crumpet is like a pancake. I also found an interesting article from SBS Australia about different crumpet-like foods around the world:

    I sometimes make crumpets at home, but mine taste a bit metallic. I need to ponder that a bit, and try to remedy it. Perhaps it is the metal egg rings I use….

    Our food budget is out of control, and this is something I would like to work on this year. Last year I got into a better habit of tracking our food costs. We need to curb eating out. And probably cut back on fancy cheeses! I remember back in our uni days when it was just the two of us and we would keep to $80pw. But we didn’t buy fancy cheese back then!

    We are lucky to have three supermarkets in town, including an Aldi. I like to check the special catalogue each week and stock up on our regular items that are half price. Recently I’ve stocked up on canned corn and bottles of mayo.

    We have a Costco about an hour away. I let our membership lapse last year and wondered and wondered about renewing it. Last time I let it lapse for a month or two, and they kept me on the same renewal cycle, so I kind of lost out on a few weeks of my yearly membership. This time around I let it lapse 3-4 months and they have dated my renewal from this month. I might stretch it out like this in the future. We particularly like the Kirkland choc chips (because they are lactose-free) and the Medjool dates. I also find their raspberries and basil excellent, but have had bad luck with their apples and oranges in the past.

    I visit the Farmers’ Market just a few times a year. I like to go for special seasonal items. I am particularly fond of sugar plums. I’m hoping our local health food shop has a good supply this year, as they are much closer to home than the markets. I’m planning on planting some sugar plum trees around our new home, too. I also target the Farmers’ Market in April to buy a particular Pink Lady apple variety called a Lady Laura. I have been emailing the grower for these the last two years during March/April so I can attend the market on just the right weeks they are available, as it is an hour’s drive away. I’m a bit mad about fruit!

    • Jamie, I am also in Australia on the NSW South Coast. I have just begun a spreadsheet to track my grocery spending. Aldi is super considerate to give their products a 4-6 digit number which remains the same, so it makes things a lot easier.

      My spreadsheet has one page where I put in the identifying number and then the item description. Each week when I log the items, I can just type in the identifying number and the price I paid that week. I believe the numbers will be the same wherever you are in Australia, so if you would like a copy of the spreadsheet drop over to my blog and send me a contact form with your email address. 🙂

      Our second shopping place is Coles, but we buy the same items there over and over so I am making my own lookup sheet for them.

    • Hi Jamie, Ha, loved the crumpet article! Yes, ours are the same as yours. They are not at all a “thing” in Canada, though. Rom has tried making them but thought they were too much of a faff as he would say! I have a list of things I always buy at Costco including raisins, nuts, coffee and oranges. I don’t know what sugar plums are? I am mad about fruit, too!

  13. Your level of detail is epic. I am in awe. My love of Costco is real and strong. The other grocery stores that are close by are a low price one and a high end one with a splattering of Asian grocery stores. None are fantastic. Since the low & high end ones are in the same building and the closest, I tend to go there. I am really trying to reduce my grocery shopping as I have a lot of food on hand.

    • Hi Sunny, I have checked out a lot of grocery stores in the greater Toronto area when I visit Link! In their current neighbourhood, there is Freshco, Price Chopper, Walmart and T-and-T. In their old neighbourhood, there was No Frills and Tasteco. To my surprise I don’t find the prices better than Nova Scotia. I thought with the high volume of shoppers there would be more competition and better deals. I think it would be hard to afford to live in Toronto because although wages are higher than elsewhere, housing prices are astronomical so there wouldn’t be much left over for food! I do like the variety, though – all the stores have kosher and halal sections, plus the excellent availability of Korean, Chinese, Japanese and other Asian foods. Yum!

      • I really appreciate the diverse options available in the “regular” grocery stores and how the selection changes by neighbourhood. I have compared the prices of food when in Maryland and was surprised that food costs were the same or more even without taking into consideration the exchange. Like you, I was thinking bigger marker, less expensive. Especially since the fast food is so much cheaper in the US.

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